Even before I became aware of an etiquette to cutting cheese, I knew there was a right way and a wrong way. Anyone who would cut the ‘nose’ off a blue cheese, for example, was dead to me.
As a well-brought-up Englishman, I would say nothing whenever this happened. Looks, of course, could have killed.
It was only when I moved to France that I realised I wasn’t alone. People cut cheese in a way that seems fairer – and possibly not just because they fear the icy glare of an anglais.
French food magazines and books often seem to carry features for the uninitiated on how to cut cheese. One book I bought here in Lille – Fromages, by Coralie Ferreira and Aimery Chemin (available on Amazon.fr) – described it as “indispensable” to know how to do it properly.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s a life skill, right up there with how to bandage a wound, how to budget and how to make a bed.
Here’s how Ms Ferreira and Ms Chemin say to cut cheeses that come in parts, such as Beaufort and Comté, then Brie and blue cheeses such as Roquefort.
I was right about not cutting the ‘nose’ off blue cheese!
Round cheeses such as Camembert, cylinders such as Saint-Maure de Touraine and small round cheese such as Rocamadour should be cut like this.
Square cheeses such as the stinky northern favourite Maroilles and pyramids such as Valençay get an altogether different treatment.
What puzzles me, though, is the bottom-right diagram showing how to cut Saint-Nectaire. Cut to the right, it simply says.
I’ll admit I’m baffled. Maybe cheese-cutting knowledge isn’t innate, after all.
Main photo © Irita Antonevica, Pexels